Tuesday, November 16, 2004


When Barclays closed down 170 of their rural branches at a stroke, they assaulted rural business and communities.

Why were the Countryside Alliance so silent then? Because - and please, let's never be fooled by any other opinion ever again - the Countryside Alliance is not about the defence of rural communities, it's just a bunch of toffs who want to hunt foxes.

Now we've cleared that up, let's talk hunting.

It's a pretty clear either/or issue, despite Tony Blair repeatedly backing laughable please-nobody compromises. What else can we expect when the Prime Minister is a failed 70s rocker, with all the incisiveness of intellect and clear grasp of essentials that implies?

There are some excellent resources that go into detail about it hunting, but really it comes down to one simple thing; whether you think it's OK to kill animals for fun. No other excuse for it holds water.

Despite the consumption of meat being exactly the same thing, killing animals for fun just isn't popular. Nobody likes the stories of kids who set fire to dogs or nail a cat to a tree. So the pro-hunters have to give us other reasons.

The anti-hunting campaign isn't about animal welfare, it's about class, they say.

Damn right. Working class bloodsports like dog fighting, badger baiting, cock fighting and bear baiting were outlawed years ago because they are cruel and have no place in a humane society. The equally cruel bloodsports of fox and deer hunting weren't included because they're toffs sports and the laws are made by toffs.

Anyone who thinks hunting's not just for toffs; go check out the price of buying a horse, the gear and the upkeep, then come back and apologise for being wrong.

To be consistent you've either got to want fox hunting banned or else badger baiting etc re-legalised. To the best of my knowledge, the CA have yet to hold a pro-badger baiting march.

Hunting is about the landed gentry enjoying the land they took from the peasants, fawningly accompanied by those with snobbish aspirations to also be so aristocratic. They're more likely to be the banker than the small business person, they're more likely to own a car so they can get to facilities denied to the rural poor, and they're more likely to own a second country home than be the person priced out of the housing market who has to live in a caravan year-round, overlooking houses only used for four weeks in the summer.

The 'lost jobs' argument is bollocks too. If a government chooses to prohibit or severely inhibit an activity, then it's fair that those whose livelihoods are affected are compensated and retrained. Personally, I'll not shed tears over hunters losing jobs, but still, I recognise it'd arguably be fair to compensate them. But the loss of jobs - or the other 'it's traditional' thing - is not an argument for the retention of an activity. Slavery was a long established and highly lucrative industry. Neither factor should have led to its being prolonged.

All the arguments about tradition and jobs go out of the window if, as will be legal, the hunts carry on but as drag hunts instead of going after live quarry. The only difference is there's no dead animal at the end of it. But remember, even though it's all about the thrill of the chase, drag hunts simply won't do. Really though, it's not about bloodlust, and you're a liar and a communist to suggest otherwise.

As for the 'Keep Democracy - Keep Hunting' slogan, poll after poll has shown a clear majority want hunting banned. The initial Private Members Bill passed with the biggest majority in the history of parliament.

The only pro-hunting poll result was the one the CA made into posters saying 59% say keep hunting.

The Market Research Society - the professional body for market, social and opinion researchers - criticised the poll for failing to ask objective questions of respondents, for failing to carry out research 'objectively and in accordance with established scientific principles' and for 'being guilty of conduct' which 'might bring discredit on the [market research] profession.'

The Advertising Standards Authority report declared it misleading and the CA are prohibited from ever repeating the 59% claim.

If I publicly did to a stray dog what they do to a fox, I'd be rightly prosecuted, convicted and vilified. That'd be the same infringement on my liberty that the hunting ban imposes. A fox is as sentient as a dog.

This doesn't matter to the hunters because, despite their 'we'll have to kill the hounds if you ban hunting' line, hunters kill more hounds than foxes already. They kill the wimpier puppies, and then when the hounds get older and slower, what do they do? Take them home as beloved family pets? Nope, Rover gets a 12-bore to the head. 'Let us hunt or the dog gets it' isn't persuasive when the full story includes 'if we hunt the dog gets it anyway'.

Ah, but foxes are vermin, we need hunting to keep the fox popualtion under control, right?

A peculiar word, vermin, a faunic equivalent to the horticultural term 'weed'. It is a derogatory word for an organism the particular landowner doesn't like, and what makes one person's vermin-list doesn't make another's.

In considering the issue of population control, let's ignore the report from Professor Stephen Harris of the Mammal Research Unit at the University of Bristol who said that during the Foot & Mouth crisis of 2001, when all hunts were off, the fox population didn't increase.

Let's also ignore the fact that populations biologically self-regulate. If an area's population is reduced then a lady fox breeds more; if the population is increasing, she breeds less.

Keep on your ignoring roll for the fact that every other country seems to deal with it without teams of hunters trashing the hedges.

And skip merrily over the inconsistency (another one? surely not) in saying hunting's essential to keep fox populations down whilst also saying it's not cruel cos they hardly kill any and the fox likes the chase anyway and usually gets away.

Let's say that's all fine and really, livestock farming profits are all that matter and foxes need to be killed. Even if the hunt did have an impact on population size, there are simpler,easier, cheaper and much more humane ways to do it.

As Mitch Benn says, it's like you having mice in your kitchen and rather than setting traps or waiting for them to come out then twatting them, you instead choose to leave them be for a few months, then one day get thirty of your mates round, all get half pissed on sherry, chase the mice round and round the kitchen for six hours with your specially starved gang of twenty cats, then when they finally catch the exhausted mouse and kill it you squeeze its guts into the face of your ten year old child. That's conservation mate, no bloodlust at all. It's not about killing animals for fun, honest.


johneffay said...

To be fair, there are a lot of working class people involved in hunting, just not many of them tend to ride horses. Some do though; I've lived amongst stag hunters and met them. Obviously this doesn't invalidate any of your other arguments.

As for drag hunting: Hunts block the roads with their vehicles, wreck the countryside and generally cause chaos. Why should they be allowed to get away with all that even if they are not killing things?

ron said...

Cindy Milburn (International Fund for Animal Welfare) said: "The fact that fox hunting with hounds is still legal exposes the UK to accusations of hypocrisy when we are involved in discussions with, for instance, the Norwegians or Japanese on whaling - or the Chinese on bear farming.

"The UK 'tolerance' of hunting with dogs is often borught up, understandably, in international negotiations on animal welfare issues."


wonder wot those pesky norwegians and japanese hit us(a) with in these negotiations... wait, my bad, gw is still our president...

merrick said...

john - To say there are a lot of working class people involved in hunting, just not many of them tend to ride horses is akin to saying 'lots of working class people live in mansions, only usually they're scullery maids and butlers rather than lords of the manor'.

And of course even if fox hunting did include toffs and proles on equal terms, it would in no way detract from the fact that fox hunting has been retained cos toffs like it whilst other non-toff bloodsports were banned, and that this is ludicrously inconsistent. Either ban 'em all or legalise 'em all.

As for drag hunting: Hunts block the roads with their vehicles, wreck the countryside and generally cause chaos.

Well, lots of pastimes block roads and cause chaos. I used to live near Headingley cricket and rugby grounds. Try getting home through match-day traffic. But, if people want to do that sort of thing they've got to do it somewhere.

That said, like you I think drag hunts are questionable on environmental grounds, but the point I was making was that the hunting lobby show themselves as bloodthirsty liars when they won't accept drag hunts, even though they say it's all about the ritual and the chase and not bloodlust.

ron - No, we have to have fox hunting here, it's conservation, otherwise we'd be overrun with foxes just like, er, the way every other country is that doesn't do hunting, right?

scarletharlot69 said...

Hi Merrick

well said. Perhaps it is nieve to hope that if hunting with dogs is finally banned in 3 months, the hunt scum will stop talking bollocks, but I suspect not.

likesay, the rural economy dependant on hunting, bolloks, surely fox hunting is relatively new, viz about 200 years. and other western industrialised imperialist countries have countrysides but no hunting with dogs.

This being a rural urban split, bollocks, the majority of rural workers are against blood sports (heard this from you Merrick, do you have any references?)

and as for the parliament act. this is what it is for. I pray fervantly that we will soon be having a royal assent party. betty windsor invited.

and after the protest in the commons, I could not believe it when some hunt scum protestors where interviewed and denied that hunting was violent. are they brain dead?

love and massive solidarity


johneffay said...

To say there are a lot of working class people involved in hunting, just not many of them tend to ride horses is akin to saying 'lots of working class people live in mansions, only usually they're scullery maids and butlers rather than lords of the manor'.No, not really. It's akin to saying that lots of people go to football, but only the toffs get to sit in the directors' box. Working class hunt followers aren't paid to follow the hunt; they do it because they enjoy it.